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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review - The Thousand Dollar Tan Line

With praise like “Nancy Drew meets Philip Marlowe, and the result is pure nitro” from Stephen King, I snatched this up as a guilty pleasure.  Yes, I am a Marshmallow (Veronica Mars fan), I admit it up front.

Author: Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Copyright: March 2014 (Vintage) 336 pgs

Series: 1st in Veronica Mars Mystery series

adult topics, innuendo, some curse words sprinkled, some violence

Mystery Sub-genre: Noir/Private Investigator Mystery

Main Characters: Veronica Mars, raised as the Police Chief's daughter, graduated law school, has taken up her dad's PI business

Setting: Modern Day, Neptune California during Spring Break

Obtained Through: Personal purchase

This book occurs right after the events in the 2014 movie "Veronica Mars" where Veronica returns to Neptune after completing law school to clear Logan from murder charges.  She stays in Neptune and takes on being a PI again rather than follow her legal career with a position waiting with a law firm in NY.  She is now struggling to keep the business open when a girl goes missing during the wild festivities of Spring Break.  Then a second girl disappears.  Veronica is handed the case by the local chamber in an attempt to stop the diminishing numbers of spring break revelers.

Veronica makes a quick discovery that the party both girls where last seen at was at a house owned by serious criminals.  But the second missing girl's family is distracting Veronica because she knows the mother from her past, and it isn't pleasant memories.   

If you watched the TV series, or even the movie, you will be familiar with the main cast of characters.  But here is a basic breakdown for the uninitiated. 

Veronica Mars grew up with the town sheriff as her dad, so she knew police procedure and regulations better than her school homework. She received her PI license for her eighteenth birthday.  The television series' first season was Veronica solving the murder of her best friend Lily.  She is vulnerable, determined, wicked smart, and has a handy wise-ass comment at the ready. She describes herself in the movie as a possible adrenaline junkie.  

Keith Mars is her dad, a great investigator who was pushed out as Sheriff by the wealthy in town who couldn't manipulate him.  He was Veronica's rock while her mother was an alcoholic and eventually abandoned the family.  They are close and loyal to one another, but he wants Veronica to be a lawyer and leave poisonous Neptune behind.  Wallace is an old friend who is now a High School Basketball Coach. Mac (aka Cindy Mackenzie) became a close friend during the series and is a computer wiz who often mines information for Veronica.  Logan was originally Lily's boyfriend, but eventually in the course of the series he and Veronica had an on-again-off-again relationship that Logan described as "epic".  Logan has only a small part in this book since he is deployed in the Navy.  Weevil, the leader of the local biker gang, is an unlikely friend to Veronica throughout the series.  He has only one very short scene in this book.

Character development within the book seems to rely on the readers prior knowledge of the character's and relationships.  If you know the characters from the series, you will see the actors as if you are watching another episode.  But, it will be harder to get a sense of some of them if you aren't already familiar with them.  This isn't a major shortfall, though.

Neptune California lives another day and the class war and corruption is ever present.  Neptune has always been a microcosm of the class interactions on a larger scale and that is presented a bit in this book as well, but not as heavily as the series.

The plot had some good twists and the pacing was steady as you follow the investigation.  I didn't see the climax coming, great twist there.  The climax was nail-biting good.  The wrap-up was classic Veronica. 

This is the beginning of the Veronica Mars franchise living on in books, and I found it quite satisfying with everything fans expect.  Those new to VM may take a while to warm up to the characters.

Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list 

Don't forget to purchase your copy of "Create Your Shining Year Workbook, Planner, and Calendar" while they are available (click here).  I think you will find this a creative way to make 2015 a great year.  

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Kay said...

I too have loved the Veronica series and am looking forward to continuing it in book form. Glad to hear your analysis of this first book. And Neptune is situated over a Hellmouth, right? LOL

Annie Romero said...

Can't go wrong with Veronica Mars! Looks like this will be a great series! I recommend Nancy Boyarsky and her book The Swap. Been the best mystery read I've found in a while! is her site for it. Good stuff!

A.F. Heart said...

ahhh yes, I loved Piz's observation "Neptune really is on a hell mouth."

Annie, thanks for the recommendation!

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